PBA stars uncertain to join Smart Gilas Pilipinas in Asian Games

source: Rey Joble | gmanews.tv

Philippine Basketball Association superstars Kelly Williams, Ryan Reyes and Sol Mercado are seriously being considered to join the Smart-Gilas Pilipinas basketball team to the Asian Games.

But coach Rajko Toroman and his troop will have to deal with two important matters in able to secure them – first, to get the approval from the PBA and second, to make sure their target players are willing to join the squad.

And with the way things are going, Williams and Reyes’ participation looks uncertain.

“Yes, we are aware that we need to formalize our request to the Philippine Basketball Association, but what concerns me more is whether these players can join us or not in the Asian Games," Toroman told GMANews.TV in a telephone interview.

“I’ve heard Ryan is attending to some personal matters and will go to the United States, so we don’t know if he can join us. His health condition is also a concern now," added Toroman.

Reyes injured his right knee during Game 3 of his team’s best-of-seven series against the Alaska Aces.

As for Williams, former PBA Most Valuable Player, is still on the recovery stage after suffering from blood disorder.

“We’ve been vocal about Kelly’s inclusion as early as last year. We really need a reliable player who can play the power forward spot and I believe Kelly will be a big help for the team," said Toroman, who led Iran to the FIBA Asia Championship crown in 2007 -- and a berth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

“But we don’t know yet if he can join us."

As for Mercado, Toroman sees him as a player who can ably fill the spot of both the point guard and big guard positions.

“We need at least three guards. We don’t want to experience the one that happened to us wherein our point guard got injured and another one is playing hurt," added Toroman.

Asked whether they’re willing to loan Mercado for Gilas, Rain or Shine co-owner Terry Que is still undecided.

“We need to think about it first," said Que. “We loaned Norwood before, but we have to really think about it this time."

Mercado, along with his buddy, Gabe Norwood, left for the United States yesterday to take a vacation. They will be back in the country by August either before or after the PBA Rookie Draft.

The decision to beef up Smart-Gilas’ roster came on the heels of the squad’s fourth-place finish in the William Jones Cup.

“We didn’t play good basketball because our shooters were having a hard time making their shots, but Mac Baracael has been able to show his versatility playing the small forward and power forward spots. Still, we need an experienced player in the No. 4 position and Kelly is the ideal one," added Toroman.

What about Japeth Aguilar, the 6-foot-9 player who was picked No.1 overall in the PBA Rookie Draft last year, but turned his back to the pro league and played instead for the national development squad?

For Toroman, he sees Aguilar more as a project player.

“We have to understand that Japeth played limited basketball action," said Toroman. “He didn’t see much action playing for Western Kentucky University as he got injured and then he played several good games for Powerade-Team Pilipinas, but was inconsistent in some of the games. We just have to be patient with him."

“Overall, I believe he’s more of a project player." - GMANews.TV

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